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The Human Behind The Diagnosis

From the moment I stepped into Mercy Medical Center, I knew it was a special place. You can just feel the spirit of Mercy in the air and experience it in the interactions with employees, however big or small. Many individuals boast impressive careers at this community hospital in downtown Baltimore, ranging anywhere from 10-60 years of service. It’s not hard to believe why people stick around for so long!

Mercy has already proven to be a great place to start as a new graduate nurse. I work on the progressive care/telemetry unit, where most patients are on continuous heart monitoring and are suffering from comorbidities. The patients are complex and I am frequently overwhelmed, but I am learning so much already. My preceptor—the nurse on the floor training me—is amazing and so patient, and all of the staff is beyond supportive. My coworkers are always asking if I am doing alright and offering a helping hand and it’s been amazing to be shown that support when I have definitely struggled in this role and this transition.

As I described above, the patients on the progressive care unit are very complex and the patient to nurse ratio is 5:1. As a new nurse, your role is typically very task oriented: you’re running in and out of patient rooms just trying to complete all of your tasks on time. It is very easy to see the patient in front of you as a puzzle rather than the human being that they are. I have had several experiences already that have forced me to open my eyes and see the heartbreak of being human. I once took care of a very frail and sick woman who was suffering from Stage 4 cancer, among other conditions. I walked into her room to hang IV antibiotics and collect lab work as the family was having a discussion with the doctor about end of life treatment. The irony of the situation was very uncomfortable and it was particularly difficult for me to endure because of the recent experience I have with the loss of a family member. Just months ago, my mom, uncles, and grandmother were having the same conversation regarding my grandfather and worked tirelessly to get him out of the hospital and set up with home hospice. It has been really difficult for me to separate my emotions from my work, but is that truly a bad thing? Expressing compassion and empathy has reminded me to acknowledge the shared human experience and all of the joy, triumph, grief, and pain that comes with this life.

Danielle Del Bene: Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore

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